When you work as part of a design team, it’s a challenge to keep everyone’s work consistent. Making sure people are using components from your design system, organizing documents properly, and completing important steps like meeting accessibility guidelines can be tough.
Regular design reviews can help everyone stay on track, but it’s easy to get sidetracked by conversations about naming conventions and whether you’re using the right shade of blue. That can take focus away from the bigger picture. And that’s where Assistants can help.
Assistants can automatically check your designs against rules for things like branding, accessibility, document organization and design systems usage. So you can quickly fix smaller issues and spend more time exploring new design solutions or ideas that will have a bigger impact.
Before we explain how they work, let’s talk a little bit about our process for creating Assistants — and how they’ll help you focus on doing even better work.
Creating your new digital team member
We know from experience that design reviews can be incredibly useful — but they can also easily get bogged down in details. Life is too short to spend it searching for a group named
Submit Button (Copy) to turn it into a Symbol.
We knew there was a better way. So, we drew inspiration from a development tool known as code linting. In its simplest form, code linting is like a spelling and grammar check — but for code. You write some code and the linter checks it for obvious errors and issues with styling.
We like to think of Assistants as the design equivalent of code linting. They automatically look for specific issues in your document and flag them, so you can easily find and fix them.
“We all make mistakes and miss small details here and there — it sure is great to catch them before handoff!”
Anthony Collurafici, Sketch plugin maker and principle product designer at Alarm.com.
There’s an Assistant for that
Different Assistants serve different purposes, and you can add as many as you want to your documents. You might have one for a brand style guide, one to check accessibility, and another for general file organization, for example.
It’s easy to find and install the ones you need — you can add them with one-click from our Assistants directory. When you share your document with others, they’ll be prompted to install the Assistants it uses. And the Assistants directory isn’t the only way to add them — you can also add an Assistant from a URL or from a file on your Mac. These options are especially handy for teams who want to share Assistants privately.
Once you’ve added the Assistants you want to use, they’ll check your document and show you any issues they’ve found. It’s easy to ignore rules when you’re just experimenting or working on rough ideas, too. To show you more about how they work, we’ve put together this short video:
Built by us, made by you
“The Assistants development environment is a delight! I managed to setup our template Assistant in five minutes — including getting coffee.”
Fredrik Ward, Sketch2React
Once you’ve created an Assistant of your own, it’s simple to share it internally with your team — or add it to our public page if you think others in the community might find it useful. Take a look at our developer documentation for a full guide to creating your own Assistants.
Finally — if you want to check a document with Assistants outside of Sketch, go right ahead. You can run them right from the command line — and even add them to your Continuous Integration (CI) workflows — making them perfectly scalable for larger teams and organizations.
“The way you designed Assistants is on the edge of both the design and development worlds. And that’s great! To me it feels though as if these worlds are still kept separate, but Assistants has the power to unite them more.”
Micha Wiebe, Sketch Wiki
Our thinking for Assistants started with a desire to make design reviews more effective, but the benefits are much bigger. Ultimately, it’s about making collaboration easier and creating a smoother design process for teams. The reaction to Assistants during our beta and testing phases has been great, and plenty of teams are already working on their own. Now we can’t wait to see how the wider design community will adopt them.
Assistants is available now in version 68 of the Mac app. If you’re ready to get a helping hand with your designs, take a look at our Assistants page and add the ones you need with a click.